I don’t belong here… This is not my home

I want to start by saying that I love Haitian culture, I love the Haitian people and I am very grateful to be having this experience. With that said it has been made very clear to me that this is NOT my home. I don’t fit in here. I’m a goofy 6’3″ tall white guy with curly hair and bright clothing. I don’t speak the language very well, and Haitian living and culture continues to baffle and amaze me. Haiti food and “purified” water is delicious but it often upsets my stomach. There seems to a constant and nauseating smell of burning trash. It is not safe for me to leave the compound we live in alone. I can’t just go for a jog or a mountain bike ride whenever I please because I look different. Despite the fact that we have almost all the comforts of home they are still just not quite the same. They are for the most part cheap imitations/ smaller/ less powerful/ less reliable versions of what I am used to in the States. For example, we have a refrigerator that keeps things cold, it is less than half the size of what we enjoy in America and is dependent on an undependable source of power. The contents of the fridge are the remnants, the leftovers of whatever the teams leave behind; we eat the forgotten scraps of our American comrades but hey no snack left behind right? We will do our part for the American people : ). We also occasionally are blessed by a care package from our family or a random trip-goer who intentionally brought us stuff. And yes we can and do buy some food ourselves but we only go shopping once a week and we need a driver and body guard to escort us through the chaos to the safe haven of Caribbean Market, or the oasis of Belmart where we can shop for overpriced food alongside our fellow ex-patriots, UN, and American embassy staff with American pop music softly playing in the background. $30 for a few days worth of crappy snacks… Supply and demand thou art a heartless fellow. The bed is large enough for me and Courtney (just barely) and whatever insects decide to grace us with their presence any given night. To be honest I’m not sure what size it is, it’s not a twin and it’s not a queen so I guess I’ll call it a Haitian tween mattress. While the mattress is inscribed with the words “Orthopedic” I think the adjacent Caduceus symbol (pole with the snakes and wings) is a better description of the comfort because I feel like I need to take medicine for my back each morning.  We have bug screens and a door sweep yet I still find myself able to swat an average of 2-3 mosquitoes every time I use the toilet. We have running water but it’s not clean to drink. The list goes on. I don’t say this to complain, I desire no pity, I only share this because God used all this to speak very clearly to me. One day I was in the bathroom listening to the song “The beautiful letdown” by Switchfoot as I endeavored to swat one of the 3 mosquitoes buzzing around me trying not to wonder if this would be the one to give me malaria. Jon Foreman sang to me:

“It was a beautiful let down
When I crashed and burned
When I found myself alone unknown and hurt
It was a beautiful let down
The day I knew
That all the riches this world had to offer me
Would never do

In a world full of bitter pain and bitter doubt
I was trying so hard to fit in, fit in,
Until I found out
I don’t belong here
I don’t belong here
I will carry a cross and a song where I don’t belong
But I don’t belong”

I found a strange comfort in those words “I DON’T BELONG HERE”. Not in an “it was a mistake to come here” kind of way. Just a realization of this is not my home. This is a foreign land; they speak a different language and do life very different than what I am used to. I will not able to be fulfilled here. But with that came a comfort because I knew that one day I will return home. With that understanding suddenly things didn’t seem to bother me as much. I didn’t matter that I was uncomfortable, inconvenienced, and unsafe. Because it was only for a short time. In December I get to go home and enjoy all the pleasures and treasures I have stored up there. Then it hit me this is how my attitude should be about this life, not just this time in Haiti. Because the truth is we don’t belong here on this earth. Philippians 3:20 says, “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ”. While the Lord has placed us on this planet for a short time we ultimately belong with him. We long for a day that there is no more sin or suffering but will never experience it until Christ returns, but we have that desire because Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that “he has set eternity in our hearts”. In the same way that I don’t mind to be uncomfortable in my time in Haiti I shouldn’t mind to be uncomfortable during my time on earth because I know that it is only temporary. I don’t need to feel complete or fulfilled in Haiti and I don’t need to feel complete or fulfilled on this earth because a day is coming soon that I will have all that I need and more in Heaven. Furthermore, with the exception of a suitcase, I took nothing to Haiti and I can take nothing back. I could buy all sorts of nice things in Haiti but I can’t really take them back to America with me. “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Timothy 6:7). So what shall I do while I am in Haiti? Just sit around and be content with mediocre standard of living and take solace in knowing that soon I will be comfortable? To quote Paul, by no means! We have work to do. Just because this is not our home doesn’t mean that we don’t have responsibilities. 2 Corinthians 5:20 gives us the mandate that “We are …Christ’s ambassadors” and we are to be about the work of reconciling the world to him. That is difficult work and is often uncomfortable, inconvenient and unsafe, but take heart because we have a King who cares and a kingdom that is coming, that kingdom is full of the Glory of the Lord and it is comfortable, it is very convenient and it is very safe, and there we have treasure that cannot be lost. Don’t settle for a cheap imitation of living. We are not supposed to find contentment in this life, and any comfort we find is a cheap imitation of what the Lord has waiting. Just wait, have hope, believe in the kingdom of God; it is near.

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